My Bookcase

How many volumes do I miss!
I wish, among folks' duties,
That they would rank returning books.
But those morocco beauties
Are never touched except by me,
And really, though I know it's
A shame, I do rejoice to think
That no one borrows poets.

To those lost books my fancy clings,
O'er them my memory grovels,
I swear in spirit when I see
The gaps among the novels.
The Thackeray I “loved and lost”
I mourn with sorrow tender,
Whoever has it also has
The curses of the lender.

The second shelf I frankly own
A motley, queer collection,
Half-filled with grave philosophers,
In spite of Kant's defection.
But Calverley and Kingsley sit
Tucked in among the Germans,
And “Ouida” snugly nestles next
My only book of sermons.

Spencer keeps cheerful company
With “How I caught a Tartar,”
Near them the book I treasure most,
My well-belovèd “Sartor.”
Montgomery by Macaulay stands,
The scorned beside the scorner,
And dear Mark Twain with Rabelais
Is chatting in the corner.

Homer! This same old copy shone,
Star of my childish vision;
To read it for myself was once
The height of my ambition.
Full fifteen years ago I made
That blot upon the binding,
Trying to print my name in Greek,
And difficulty finding.

Dear books! you answer questioning
Without a why or wherefore.
Our friendship never had a jar;
You seem to know and care for
The tender touches that I give
To every well-worn cover,
And as I love you, friends of mine,
I could not love a lover.
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